BIO(BRAIN)-X International Summer School

STUDENT CORNER

October 2019

The 18th International Summer School on BIO(BRAIN)-X: Biocomplexity, Biodesign, Bioinnovation, Biomanufacturing and Bioentrepreneurship, sponsored by the NSF, the University of Houston Biomedical Engineering Department and technically co-sponsored by the IEEE Brain Initiative and the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, was held at the Chania Academy, Crete, June 9-15, 2019. This summer school was a continuation of previous summer schools. Twenty-five students and eight distinguished faculty attended the 18th summer school. The NSF, the IEEE Brain Initiative and the University of Houston co-sponsored 25 students.

The objective of the BIO(BRAIN)-X summer school is to train junior and senior undergraduate, graduates in biological science, neuroscience, bioengineering students in healthcare engineering, technologies and innovations, computational and data sciences in brain and life sciences.

The summer school was an excellent learning, teaching, and brain-storming platform for students, post-docs, young researchers, and summer school faculty. It provided students the opportunity to personally meet with leaders in the field while enjoying a pleasant location. Nine distinguished faculty gave these lectures, including Drs. Ted Berger, David Packard Chair in Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at University of Southern California, May Wang, Kavli Fellow, GCC Distinguished Cancer Scholar at Georgia Tech/Emory, Paul Sajda, the Chair at IEEE Brain Initiative and professor at Columbia University, Colin Brennan, the founder and Chief Commercial Officer for HiFiBiO, Mike McShane, James J. Cain Professor II and Chair of Biomedical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University, Paolo Bonato, Wyss Institute Scholar and Professor at Harvard Medical School, John White, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, Michael Mitchell, the Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania and Karin Wang, Professor at Temple University.

The summer school lectures focused on the recent developments on Advanced Technologies for BRAIN, Life Science Technologies, Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and Healthcare Entrepreneurship.

We believe that the summer school has stimulated interdisciplinary research and collaboration among engineers, computer scientists, and medical researchers in the areas of translational healthcare engineering.

The following five students were partially sponsored by the IEEE Brain Initiative. They provided their perspectives of the summer school.

Luca Tóth, MD and PhD Candidate, Pécs University

Participating in BioX 2019 Summer School was a great experience and an exceptional opportunity as a medical doctor with technological interest. During this event, we had a chance to meet the most inspiring professors on biomedical field. The seminars were very impressive and gave an excellent insight to the state-of-the-art research areas in a fascinating and interactive way. The lecturers were incredibly talented and welcoming for all of the questions. This attitude alleviated the distance between the professionals and students, and I found it exceptional and very encouraging. Hence in this amazingly friendly professional atmosphere we had a chance to discuss all of the present and future obstacles regarding the research areas, future plans, strategic challenges, and personal questions. In addition to the professional biomed field the summer school provided an exceptional opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs and hear about the ups and downs in this area, which was very influential, since our research group is interested in some medical device development and potentially open to market.

During the lectures I had a chance to learn about new techniques and expertise in several aspects regarding my research field in neurorehabilitation and human-machine interfaces. The student presentation gave an excellent opportunity to improve my presentation skills and start an influential discussion on further perspectives. Also, it was very impressive to hear the other students’ presentations and consider new angles.

In conclusion I am very thankful and proud for the opportunity to represent University of Pécs on this remarkable professional event, in beautiful Chania and to have the chance to make friendships and priceless connection with the professors in biomedical engineering area. On behalf of the participating students I would like to thank you Professors Akay for the organizing this exceptional summer school.

 

Megan Goh, BS, Max Planck Institute

Bio(BRAIN)-X Summer School Impression

The Bio(BRAIN)-X Summer School was such an amazing opportunity for researchers from all over the world, working in a wide-variety of fields related to medical disorders and diseases, to convene in one place and discuss cutting-edge, innovative neurological/computational research. It was truly enlightening. The lectures enabled students to engage in thoughtful discussions related to the current and future direction of biomedical engineering. At its very core, advancements in research occur through communication, connection and collaboration, to which this summer school provided ample opportunities to do all three. Industry and academic leaders provided a warm and approachable atmosphere for students to seek out answers to their questions. Additionally, their guidance with respect to how to navigate different paths available after completing our courses of study was invaluable.

 

As someone who has spent the last year abroad for a Fulbright Research Fellowship, I was lucky enough to learn, first-hand, how important international collaborations are in aiding the progression of innovation in science. After attending this summer school and meeting so many amazing researchers, I have been able to make even more connections than I could ever hope for and aspire to continue to conduct research on a global scale. This experience has been extraordinary. I am so very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend. Inspired by the intelligence and vision of the students, faculty and staff at this summer school, I hope to—like them—continue on the path of shaping the world of science.

 

Chihiro Inami, PhD Candidate, Nagoya City University

This summer school was the most meaningful and memorable experience in my life. I got new knowledges and opportunities of interacting with wonderful people in beautiful Chania. Furthermore, it was a good opportunity to think about my career.

I am a first year PhD student at Pharmaceutical science in Japan. It was the first time to go foreign country by myself, and also to join the overseas meeting. Moreover, I am not confidence in my English skill. In fact, I often couldn’t speak well at first. But all faculty members and attended students were so nice to me. My anxieties regarding to speaking English was gradually disappeared.

I could expand my knowledge in lectures, because speakers with diverse backgrounds such as biosensor, drug delivery system and bioinformatics, provided a lot of latest information.
Lectures on neuroscience were fused with other fields such as mechanical engineering and computational modeling. I felt very interested in these topics.

Programs other than lectures by faculty members were very exciting. I participated in “student presentation” as a speaker. Since it was my first experience to make a presentation in English, I was very anxious. But everyone listened my presentation closely and many participants gave positive feedbacks. This experience will help for my future motivation. Discussions about career by female researchers in the “panel discussion” provided me a lot regarding future choices. During the discussion, their message “Don’t be afraid” was impressive.

I would like to thank for Dr. Akay and all faculty members to give me such a wonderful opportunity and all friends who met in Chania.

Julia Marie Schaepe, Biomedical Engineering Senior, Stanford University

The 2019 BioX summer school was an incredible opportunity to expose students to inspiring research and to invigorate our desire to explore. I am currently completing my senior year at Stanford University in Bioengineering and researching neuropsychiatric disorders in a human brain organoid lab. This summer school had an extensive impact on both my career outlook and my excitement for this interdisciplinary field. It gave me clarity for the academic road in front of me and provided irreplaceable advice from top researchers in biological and technical fields. Not only are the professors presenting on their innovative and impactful progress during seminars, but they also offer opportunities to understand professorship and research science on a more personal level outside of the classroom. The unique guidance and genuine passion from professors participating in this summer school is what makes it so extraordinary.

Furthermore, the global and interdisciplinary nature of this summer school makes it a hotbed for scintillating dialogue. Studies from vastly distinct countries and with differing specializations and experiences are brought together by their curiosity and drive to push research forward. The student presentations, alongside the faculty seminars, were deeply inspiring. The dedication and excitement that the summer school cohort exhibit in their personal work demonstrate the many possibilities that a future in research can hold. As I go through the application process for a doctorate, I will keep in mind all the lessons learned, from both students and professors.

Attending this summer school gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to invigorate my curiosity, connect with highly talented and global researchers, and become friends with people whom I was incredibly lucky to meet. The collaborative and genuine environment created by the summer school forges lasting friendships and collaborative mentalities that will encourage global scientific exploration.

Joanna Chwal, Graduate Student, Silesian University of Technology

I am Biomedical Engineering masters course student at Silesian University of Technology in Poland. Before this year Summer School I have attended a few conferences, where I could present my researches and discuss about my interests, which concern 3D graphics designing, but none of them was as valuable as the 18th Biox International Summer School was.

During this event I had the privilege of meeting Professor Metin Akay and his wife PhD Yasemin Akay. They both made sure that all the students, me including, had a great time at the Summer School and they have created both professional and family atmosphere. While staying there I had a chance at meeting some truly fascinating persons from all around the world. We have enjoyed ourselves with endless talks and shared meals between lectures and presentations given by the speakers from different backgrounds. I have also been impressed by the standard of presented papers. The topics varied from biomaterials to deep learning and they were very ambitious and innovative. In addition students had a chance to present their research in front of the group, what had influence to improve public speaking skills. I can honestly say that from all others this conference had the biggest impact on me and I had an amazing time during my stay.

This is why I think that experiences like these can be life changing. Now that I am back home, I am sure that I will never forget the time which I spent in Chania, where I met amazing people and decided to pursuit the scientific path. I am sure that memories and friendships made at the Summer School will last with me forever and I want to thank Professor Akay for inviting me and giving me a chance to attend such an event.

About BrainInsight

BrainInsight, the IEEE Brain Initiative eNewsletter, is a quarterly online publication, featuring practical and timely information and forward-looking commentary on neurotechnologies. BrainInsight describes recent breakthroughs in research, primers on methods of interests, or report recent events such as conferences or workshops.


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Ricardo Chavarriaga
Center for Neuroprosthetics, EPFL, Switzerland
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